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What are the advantages and disadvantages of feeding an infant on demand? Roughly when should feeding on demand stop and a proper schedule start?

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In my experience, feeding on demand mainly benefits the infant, while feeding on schedule mainly benefits the mother. – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 7 '11 at 6:52
@torbengb - The third and never mentioned method benefits the mother even more: feeding when convenient. Our youngest children have experienced this more than our eldest did :) – Jack Douglas Apr 8 '11 at 17:28
up vote 11 down vote accepted

The pros for a very young child is it promotes trust and bonding when their needs are met immediately, or close to it. They also cry less and tend to be more peaceful in their awake times. The con is more when they get older. It is harder to predict and manage a child's feeding schedule if there is no schedule. I have seen with breastfeeding children that it is harder to ween them from the breast when they are used to mom being constantly accessible. We have a toddler in our circle of friends that demands to nurse whenever mom is around. Babies will naturally develop a rhythm to their feedings, but we tried to aim for every two hours while being flexible to their needs. As they grew and started into solid foods, they received three meals per day with breast milk in between if needed/wanted. We tried sleep/eat training with our first child and it didn't really work too well, so I have followed our second child's lead and she is growing and thriving all on her own. Follow your child's lead-he/she will let you know!

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